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Choice Research on Theory and Practice Essay: Fluency

EDU 747: Literacy for English Language Learners
Kayla Pollak


Peregoy and Boyle (2017) state that The classroom is a natural environment for a large
variety of oral language learning opportunities (p. 172). For English Language Learners,
developing oral language proficiency can be quite challenging. Gustad (2014) argues that
[English Language Learners] are expected to acquire social language skills, academic language
skills, and to keep up with what is taught in their classroom, all at the same time (p. 75). I work
in a Title I school with a high percentage of ELLs, primarily Spanish speakers. Out of my
twenty third-graders, nine of them are English Second Language students. While the majority of
them struggle with vocabulary and comprehension, their journey of literacy achievement begins
with their oral language developmentnamely fluency. While fluency used to refer to basic
reading speed, a more authentic approach to fluency instruction regards accuracy,
comprehension, prosody, and intonation as part of fluency (Rasinski, 2009). Because so many of
my English Language Learners struggle with oral language development, I decided to research
strategies that would promote fluency among ELLs in my classroom.
In the article titled The impact of technology tools on literacy motivation on elementary
school English language learners: podcasting in a 4th grade EAL class, Gustad (2014) discusses
how implementing podcasting in his classroom improved motivation and fluency with his
English Language Learners. Shamburg (2009) states that Podcasting is the creation and serial
distribution of media through the internet (as cited in Gustad, 2014, p. 77). Skouge, Rao, and
Boisevert (2007) explain that using technology in the proper way can increase student motivation
as well as assist in promoting language development for ELLs. Skouge, Rao, and Boisevert
(2007) go on to argue that [English Language Learners] need this kind of context in order to
acquire an additional language, and they need to be stimulated to read and write in a language
with which they are in various stages of fluency (as cited in Gustad, 2014, p. 76). Some English


Language Learners lack fluency because they are too embarrassed or intimidated to speak
English in front of their peers. One of the benefits of podcasting is that it can be done
individually or in small groups with the added bonus of the ability to re-record oneself (Gustad,
2014, p. 76). Additionally, because podcasting is done in a controlled environment, students
feel less frightened to make a mistake in front of their peers, which allows them more
opportunities to develop their fluency through an engaging and literacy-rich activity (Gustad,
Creating podcasts is an engaging way to promote and track fluency. Podcasts are often
made episode by episode, which is beneficial in terms of self-reflection and tracking progress.
Gustad (2014) states that ELLs can practice their pronunciation of English words and
expressions, then listen to themselves and reflect upon their pronunciations and what they would
like to improve (p. 77). In addition to creating podcasts, English Language Learners can benefit
from listening to podcasts. Young and Rasinski (2009) explain that Modeling fluent reading
involves listening to a text read fluently by another (p. 4). By giving ELLs the opportunity to
listen to what fluent reading sounds like, they are more likely to improve their own fluency
(Young & Rasinski, 2009).
In Implementing Readers Theatre as an Approach to Classroom Fluency Instruction,
Young and Rasinski (2009) discuss how readers theatre can be used as a strategy to help improve
fluency and overall reading ability in an elementary school classroom. Young and Rasinski
(2009) argue that Readers Theatre can create an academic avenue that leads to increased reading
fluency, regardless of whether students are striving or thriving (p. 4). In order to be fluent
readers, English Language Learners need repeated exposure to the same text. Rasinski (2009)
explains that The repeated and assisted practice involved in rehearsal will improve accuracy and


automaticity in word recognition (p. 5). Raskinski (2009) goes on to state that students engaged
in readers theatre are more likely to practice their reading because the students know the
rehearsals will culminate in a performance in front of an audience. When reading academic
texts, students think the main objective is to read fast. However, with readers theatre, the
purpose is to [read] with meaningful expression to help an audience or listeners better
understand the passage (p. 5). Because students involved in readers theatre are portraying a
particular character, the students are more likely to read with expression and prosody.
In Research-Based Methods of Reading Instruction for English Language Learners
Grades K-4, Vaughn and Linan-Thompson (2007) discuss the challenges that English Language
Learners face when developing fluency. Vaughn and Linan-Thompson (2007) stress the
importance of explicit fluency instruction as it Provides students with the practice they need to
read smoothly, at a rapid pace, and with prosody (p. 4). Choral reading is a strategy to help
promote fluency, especially among English Language Learners. In choral reading, the students
and the teacher take a brief look at a passage and make predictions about what the passage will
be about (Vaughn & Linan-Thompson, 2007). Then, the teacher models fluent reading for the
class by reading the passage aloud. After that, the whole class or group reads the same passage
aloud, while the teacher lowers her reading volume in an attempt to let students take the lead
(Vaughn & Linan-Thompson, 2007). During this last step, the goal is for ELLs to read as
quickly and accurately as possible, without seeming rushed (Vaughn & Linan-Thompson, 2007).
If time allows, the teacher can ask certain pairs of students to read the passage again (Vaughn &
Linan-Thompson, 2007). It is important to remember that English Language Learners need
sufficient background knowledge and vocabulary instruction before they can be expected to read
a text fluently (Vaughn & Linan-Thompson, 2007). Because of this fact, before choral reading,


the teacher should pre-teach the important vocabulary words from the text in addition to having
students make a prediction based on the title, pictures, background knowledge, etc.
All three articles spoke to the importance of repeated and consistent fluency instruction.
Samuels (1979) states that Assisted and repeated oral readings are two of the best ways to target
fluency instruction (as cited in Young & Rasinski, 2009, p. 6). Podcasting, readers theatre, and
choral reading all provide ELLs with opportunities to read appropriate leveled texts over and
over again along with the chance for teacher and peer feedback in a safe, controlled environment.
With my 9 English Language Learners, I do a lot of activities where they are able to
listen to fluent readers in order to improve their own fluency. However, I rarely implement
activities where students can record themselves on a regular basis and monitor their growth and
progress. I love the idea of podcasting, but this will take some time to implement with my
specific set of ELLs. In the meantime, I want to take some elements of podcasting and adapt
them to create an engaging fluency activity for my students. Each week, I will record myself
reading a good fit passage for my ESL students. Every Monday during literacy stations, students
will grab the fluency passage from their fluency folder along with a tablet, and they will listen to
my recording while they follow along with the text. Students will spend the whole station
listening to the passage and they will be encouraged to read along if they feel comfortable. Each
Tuesday, students will get with a buddy and listen to my recording of the passage. Then, the
students will choral read the passage while my recording plays in the background. Each
Wednesday, students will get with the same buddy reading partner and they will record
themselves buddy reading or choral reading the passage without the assistance of my recording.
On Thursdays, students will record themselves reading the passage aloud without assistance from
a buddy. Students will then have the opportunity to read the passage aloud in front of the class or


a small guided reading group. On Fridays, students will be given a passage that contains many
of the same words, but the content of the passage is different. This will essentially be a cold
read, however, because the passage will contain many of the same words, the teacher will be able
to measure which of the words have been retained as sight words.
There are a few ways this could be differentiated. One, the teacher and students could
measure reading speed by having students time themselves each time they read the fluency
passage. As the week goes on, students should become more comfortable with the passage, and
therefore read at a faster rate. However, it is important that students realize that reading fast is
not the main goal in reading and that reading fast doesnt necessarily make you a good reader. In
order to boost motivation, teachers could devise a fluency track and monitor chart with known
awards and incentives. Colombo (2002) argues that Motivated readers are engaged readers, and
this engagement is highly related to continued growth in reading ability. Students are motivated
when reading texts that are connected to stimulating activities (as cited in Gustad, 2014, p. 76).
This activity encompasses read alouds, technology, choral reading, and a culminating
performancemuch like the activities described in the aforementioned articles.
As educators, it is vital that we recognize the needs of our English Language Learners.
They have many obstacles to overcome in order to become fluent readers, but with the right set
of strategies, ELLs will be able reach oral language proficiency.



Colombo, M. W. (2002). English language literacy: Motivating culturally diverse students to

improve reading and writing skills. New England Reading Association Journal, 38(3), 10.
Retrieved from
Gustad, A. R. (2014). The impact of technology tools on literacy motivation on elementary
school english language learners: Podcasting in a 4th grade EAL class. The International
Schools Journal, 34(1), 75-84. Retrieved from
Peregoy, S. F., Boyle, O., & Peregoy, S. F. (2017). Reading, writing, and learning in ESL: A
resource book for K-12 teachers (Seventh Edition ed.). Boston: Pearson/Ally and Bacon.

Vaughn, S., & Linan-Thompson, S. (2007). Research-Based Methods of Reading Instruction for
English Language Learners, Grades K-4. Alexandria, US: ASCD. Retrieved from

Young, C., & Rasinski, T. (2009). Implementing readers theatre as an approach to classroom
fluency instruction. The Reading Teacher, 63(1), 4-13. Retrieved from